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Year 10 Exam Technique - The first practice question

Let me say first of all how proud I am in the mature way that you tackled a new assessment format. It bodes well for the year and though I know some of you were disheartened with your result, don't be! The ideas you expressed were of an excellent standard and with a few tweaks to the structures you use to express yourself, you will see your marks rocket.



Here is a quick summary of the key points of the lesson:

The Opening:

A lot of your success depends on the strength of your opening argument. You need to have a strong argument that you can 'hang' (use) a RANGE of quotations to support. This argument needs to answer the question and then allow you to use your RANGE of quotations to develop your analysis from.

E.G.

How does the writer present adult decisions in the short story 'When the Wasps Drowned'?

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'.

Here there is a concise sentence with a clear argument (growing up is difficult) that I can then use a range of quotations to support:

'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my own ear'
'When I closed my eyes, I could see Therese's dream, the arm growing through the soil'
'My fingers, fiddling unconsciously, played with the ring for a moment'
'In that heat, everything seemed an effort'
'I hungry for conversation'
'For the first few moments, I stood mouth agape... not wanting to go anywhere near Therese or all those wasps'
'Mum was out at work all day. She left us to our own devices'


So my opening allows me to develop my analysis further.

Key Rule
 
Your opening sentence should:

1) Answer the How part of a question.
2) Be succinct and clear.
3) Contain an view that you have a range of quotations to support.



Analysis

A D grade or below answer will be able to do the following:

Set out an argument, support it with a quotation and paraphrase:

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'. 'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my ear' comes after the protagonist has made a decision to hide the body without telling anyone and seeks comfort from her mother. 

To target the A*-C grades, you need to Zoom in and focus on the key words of a quotation. In doing so you need to look at implied, symbolic  or hidden meaning (connotations). How perceptive your analysis is will separate you from a C or a B.

E.G.

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'. 'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my ear' comes after the protagonist has made a decision to hide the body without telling anyone and seeks comfort from her mother. The use of 'Mum' suggest the protection she seeks from the adult world as she realises she wasn't mature enough to cope with the decision she made. 

Here, they have chosen Mum as a word to focus on and look at the connotations of Mum linking it to the question. This develops more marks.

 
Key Rule
 
Your analysis should:

1) Focus on a key word or phrase in your quotation (if you can't see which word / phrase to use you probably haven't chosen an appropriate quotation).
2) Focus on implied or symbolic meaning and connotations.
3) Link to the question.




A Grade

An A grade student will be able to see that there is more than one potential interpretation, so they will zoom in again. They will pick out either a deeper second interpretation of the key word they have picked out or zoom in to a different part of the quotation.

E.G. 

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'. 'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my ear' comes after the protagonist has made a decision to hide the body without telling anyone and seeks comfort from her mother. The use of 'Mum' suggest the protection she seeks from the adult world as she realises she wasn't mature enough to cope with the decision she made. She has also taken on the mother figure with her younger siblings for most of the story and so her focus on 'Mum' could also suggest she is still learning how to make adult decisions and is looking for guidance from her mother. 

Here, they have chosen to stick with the word 'Mum' and deepen their interpretation of the word. Note how this still links to the question and the opening sentence.


Key Rule
 
Your second analysis should:

1) Add depth to your original analysis by offering a further interpretation or analyse a second key word in your quotation.
2) Focus on implied or symbolic meaning and connotations.
3) Link to the question.



A* Grade

An A* grade student will be able to see that how the writer has constructed their text to reflect their views on the world and appreciate the effectiveness in how this is conveyed. This is the evaluative stage of the answer where they ZOOM OUT and link their analysis to what they think the writer is trying to convey (their key ideas or message). This should tie up your ideas and link to your argument as well.

The writer presents adult decisions as being difficult for teenagers to make in 'When the Wasps Drowned'. 'I wanted Mum's gentle shush in my ear' comes after the protagonist has made a decision to hide the body without telling anyone and seeks comfort from her mother. The use of 'Mum' suggest the protection she seeks from the adult world as she realises she wasn't mature enough to cope with the decision she made. She has also taken on the mother figure with her younger siblings for most of the story and so her focus on 'Mum' could also suggest she is still learning how to make adult decisions and is looking for guidance from her mother. This is particularly effective in conveying that children often grow up too fast and aren't always equipped to deal with the difficulties of making adult decisions. This carries Wigfall's ideas that children will make mistakes as they experience greater responsibility in the adult world and often need guidance. 

Look at how the paragraph expands the focus of the answer to include what they feel the writer's ideas are but also link these ideas back to their overall argument. Dr Warren calls this tying a bow in the thread of your argument.

Key Rule
 
Your evaluation should:

1) Zoom out to focus on the writer's overall message.

2) Judge the effectiveness in the way it is conveyed (subtly, effectively, clearly etc.).
3) Link back to your opening argument and the question.


As I've said in lessons, we are all going to understand things at different times and at different paces, but you should now have a framework to follow and some errors to learn from.

As long as you learn from the errors, you will continue to improve.

Feel free to post any improved work for me to comment on below.






 
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Anonymous
6 December 2013 at 17:14

How does Shakespeare present disturbed characters in Act 3 and compare this to the poems of Robert Browning?
Shakespeare presents Macbeth as a disturbed character through Macbeths soliloquy in Act 3 Scene 1 ‘the gracious Duncan have I murdered’ portrays that Macbeth is mentally disturbed as he has killed the king, on the other hand, Macbeth could feel remorse for Duncan as he called him ‘gracious’ this implies that even though Macbeth killed Duncan he still thought of him as a good king. On a different note he could be being sarcastic and trying to convince himself that he did the right thing by killing Duncan.
Robert Browning presents the protagonist in Porphyrias Lover as mentally disturbed too. ‘That moment she was mine, mine, fair’. The repetition of ‘mine’ come off as determined to get her, it is also extremely obsessive and comes off as disturbed as he only wants her to be his and no one else’s. It could also be portrayed, as he is afraid of losing her, which is why he is being possessive over her. After we see that the protagonist is a little too possessive as he strangles her with her own hair to keep her from leaving us with the impression that he is indeed disturbed and crazy.
Shakespeare and Browning present disturbed characters in different ways, Shakespeare shows disturbed characters through soliloquy and rhymed verse to give the characters a strange/crazy effect, which is why he gave the witches, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth rhymed verse. Where as Browning presents it through the use if imagery and rhyme.
So all in all both writers present disturbed characters in different ways but in some ways they are similar to each other, which is why, they are so popular now.

Amee Racine

8 December 2013 at 18:23

Hi Amee,

In your analysis of your quotations remember to link back to the idea of how the characters are portrayed as disturbed. You should be using the word disturbed at least twice every time you look at a quotation (once in your point and once linking your analysis back to this idea).

Remember you can address AO4 by stating that Soliloquy is where the character presents their true thoughts on stage.

Your last paragraph is like a little conclusion which you would not need until the end of your essay.

Try to use formal academic language instead of 'gives off' such as 'creates the impression'. See the post here to find other useful phrases to make your writing sound more sophisticated. http://milneenglishaccident.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/watch-your-language-sounding-smrt.html

Mr Milne

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